Launch of Office 2016! What’s New About It?

Microsoft-Office-2016

In the fast-moving world of technology where innovative, and ever-complex software is launched every day, Microsoft’s Office suite feels like an old friend. Some users have known this word processing and business application software since they were kids: it was launched back in 1988 in a package containing Word, Excel and PowerPoint. And while it has been updated and upgraded many times over the years, the basic interfaces of the Office suite of applications have remained much the same. Little wonder then that people have grown familiar with how it works, and can use it intuitively even in its newer and highly advanced versions.

Well the Word Nerds at Microsoft have just released the latest version of Office 2016: the first new version of Office in three years. So you’ll be wondering what benefits this latest version has for a small or medium business such as yours. Is there anything worth upgrading for and, if so, how will Office 2016 boost your business?

In truth, the Office Suite has been so finely tuned over the years that most updates bring only minor changes. But there are enough new features in Office 2016 to make it worth taking a look, whether you’re a home or business user. So here’s the lowdown.

A query box

Perhaps the first thing users will appreciate is the use of a toolbar search box called “Tell Me”, which will be familiar to anyone who uses the Office Online “Tell me what you want to do…” box. To use it, you simply type keywords referencing what you want: “tables”, “spellcheck”, “footnotes” and so on. You are then presented with a narrowed-down list of features from the hundreds of Office tools available, as well as the function options to use them. This “Tell Me” search box has been incorporated into Office 2016’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and will be welcomed by users who know only the basics of these programs or find them hard to navigate. It’s certainly a far cry from the little missed, and often twisted, Word mascot Clippy, whose advice was rarely the answer to your problems.

Tell-Me-Bar-Office-2016

Better Word and Outlook options

Browse is the Word feature that never seems to be found when you’re most desperately seeking it. Now it’s been given improved visibility, as have the “Open” and “Save As” tabs, which is a godsend for anyone who’s forgetful and can’t remember when and where they saved vital work.

Another nice new feature is the “Recent Items” option that appears when you are attaching a file in an Outlook email. It saves you having to fish around for a file you want to send to several recipients. Outlook’s new Clutter feature also analyses how you use emails, determines what you consider junk or low priority, and moves them to a clutter inbox where you can look at them when you have more time.

Collaborative Word editing in real time

Anyone who has used applications such as Google Docs will have been converted to the infinite collaborative advantages of co-editing a document or spreadsheet in real time. Of course, this is also a feature of Microsoft’s Office Online, but Office 2016 brings it to all users of Word and goes one-up on Google by offering the function as a desktop app, rather than merely a web-based one. That said, to use collaborative editing, you have to share files or documents in OneDrive first. This feature will be rolled out to PowerPoint and Excel in the future.

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Collaboration in work groups

Surely the biggest advantage of the cloud is its ability to enhance collaboration via documents and conferencing. If you use Office 365, you’ll be familiar with Outlook Desktop Groups or shared mailboxes. The desktop version of Outlook in Office 2016 allows you to create and manage groups, keeping an eye on what’s going on, and to manage conversations and group files stored on OneDrive. It’s too early to say if this is quite as useful as its cloud counterpart, but it should make a difference to desktop users.

Sway – brings your presentations to life

PowerPoint has always been one of the Office suite’s most popular and user-friendly programs, and it keeps its place in the Office 2016 suite. But recognising people are getting more inventive in their presentations, Microsoft  has included it’s popular Sway application in Office 2016. Unlike PowerPoint, with its slideshow format, Sway offers a more free-from approach and is designed for web content. You can now easily drag and drop videos, photos and files from your social media, OneDrive, or YouTube account, or from your browser or mobile device, to create interactive presentations that should wow an audience.

microsoftsway

Outlook offers more options

Outlook must be one of the most widely used office applications in the world, and it has been given an overhaul in Office 2016. When you are using the email system’s “add attachment” option to include a document or file with your email, Outlook 2016 asks if you want to also include a link to a file stored on your SharePoint, OneDrive or OneDrive for Business account. Obviously this would not be needed by anyone using a cloud solution where linked documents can be seen in real time, but it does ensure that non-cloud users have more options.

Better protection against data loss

One new aspect of Office 2016 that business owners will appreciate is the use of Microsoft’s Data Loss Protection Scheme. This vital tool set helps IT administrators detect the loss of sensitive data from a company, and stop it happening accidently via Word, Excel and PowerPoint. All you need is for your IT administrators to set the level of data loss protection policies you need, with notification, justification and block permissions that restrict which files can be sent where, without holding up any legitimate information from going out.

Should you upgrade?

This latest version of Office hasn’t garnered the same level of excitement as previous releases, but this could be perhaps because so many of us are using cloud-based office suites and apps and our older versions of Word are working fine. But whether you decide to make the leap to Office 2016 will depend on how you’d be using it.

For a Quick Start Guide to the Microsoft Office 2016 Suite – Click Here!

If you are a business owner who is already using Microsoft’s cloud solution, Office 365, then splashing out for Office 2016 is probably a good idea. By using the latest incarnation of Office, you ensure your Office suite is future-proof for a few years to come. Office 365 is always being updated and changed, and many innovations are being made to integrate with the latest changes in Office 2016. For example, the Data Loss Prevention scheme we looked at above will only work if you have SharePoint that is run and configured via the Office 365 Compliance Centre.

But so far, it seems Office 2016 is very much aimed at the cloud user and designed to work in tandem with Office 365. So it isn’t such a necessity for users who just want an on-premise deployment – you also don’t get the advantage of integration of Exchange or SharePoint, for example.

This means that, unless you have definite plans to move to a cloud-based solution, you are probably better off upgrading when you really need to, such as when the time comes that your current version of Office will no longer be supported.

If you want to know more about Office 2016 or any of Microsoft’s solutions and applications, the experts at Empower IT are happy to help. Why not drop us a line?